Pate a Choux is a simple pastry dough used to make sweet desserts like cream puffs and eclairs as well as savory appetizers like cheese filled profiteroles. This step by step choux pastry recipe is easy to master and will be sure to impress at your next dinner or holiday party!
What is Choux Pastry
Choux Pastry is also knows as Pate a Choux. It is a very simple and light pastry dough made only of water, butter, flour, and eggs. There are no yeast or baking powders to make the choux pastry dough rise up, instead they rise from all the extra moisture in the batter. This causes the pastry to steam and as a result we get a puffed up and hollow pastry that can be filled with sweet or savory fillings.
What are the uses for Choux Pastry
Pate a choux pastry dough is used to make many foods, including profiteroles, cream puffs, eclairs, croquembouches, beignets, and churros. While most pate a choux pastries are baked, beignets and churros are deep fried.
They are often filled with pastry cream, whipped cream, or savory cheese mixes. Profiteroles and Gougeres have savory fillings such as cheese while cream puffs and eclairs have sweet fillings such as pastry cream or whipped cream.
How to Make Pate a Choux
First, melt the butter, sugar, and salt in the water until it boils. Then, add the flour. You’ll need to cook out the flavor of the flour and dry the mixture a bit. Once it’s ready, there will be a film on the bottom of the pan. This happens pretty quickly, but you’ll want to cook it until it’s a thick film, about 4 minutes.
Transfer the mixture to a standing mixer with a paddle attachment and add the 4 eggs, one at a time. You’ll know it’s done when you slowly lift the paddle attachment and the batter comes off in a long string. If it doesn’t pull away, you’ll want to mix the 5th egg and add it to the batter one teaspoon at a time until it gets to the desired consistency.
Then, add it to a pastry bag fitted with a large piping tip and pipe onto parchment or a slipmat. Do not pipe them too close as they will expand when the cook. The larger you pipe them the more they’ll expand.
Once they’re piped you can take a beaten egg mixed with water and tap down the pointed tip with your finger or pastry brush dipped in egg water mixture. If you’re adding craquelin, add the cookie to the top and don’t worry about patting down the tip. The cookie will even out the tip while it cooks. Viola! You’re done. You can fill it with anything you’d like such as whipped cream or pastry cream.
Tips and troubleshooting for making Pate a Choux
- Use the touch test when determining if there is enough eggs. After adding the 4th egg, use your finger or the tip of a spatula to touch the batter and slowly pull away. It should pull away in a long string. If it doesn’t pull in a string, add more egg, one teaspoon at a time.
- Check out my macaron recipe for tips on filling a pastry bag with batter. If you don’t have pastry bags you can use a large ziplock bag with one of the corners cut off.
- Don’t open the oven door when cooking. You want to keep the oven hot and not release any of the steam as that is what causes the choux pastry dough to rise. Keep that oven closed friends!
- These are best the day you make them, but you can freeze the baked and unfilled cream puffs and defrost in the fridge and fill them when you’re ready to serve.
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- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
- 1 tsp sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup all purpose flour spooned and leveled
- 4-5 large eggs
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp water
Filling of Choice
- Heat oven to 400 degrees
- Assemble a pastry bag with a medium sized round tip
- Line two baking sheets with slipmats or parchment paper. You can create circles on the mats or paper by dipping a round cookie cutter or small glass into flour and placing it on the parchment or mat. This gives you an outline when you go to pipe your cream puffs and helps ensure they are the same size.
- Fit your standing mixer with a paddle attachment.
Making the Pate a Choux
- Combine the butter, sugar, salt and water in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium high heat.
- Once the butter is melted and it starts to boil, remove from heat and stir in the flour with a with a wooden spoon or heat proof spatula. When it is combined place back over heat.
- Stir the mixture constantly of medium high for about 4 minutes. You are trying to dry it out a bit and cook the flour. It will start to pull away from the edges and a film will form on the bottom of the pan.
- Transfer the batter to a standing mixer and turn on low. Mix for about 2 minutes to cool it down.
- While still mixing on slow, add 4 eggs one at a time. Make sure to fully incorporate each egg before you add the next.
- Test the choux pastry batter to see if it’s the right consistency by touching it with your finger or a spatula. It should pull away in a string. If it doesn’t, mix up another egg and slowly add it to mixture one teaspoon at a time until it is the right consistency.
- Fill your pastry bag with batter and pipe onto the baking sheets. You can either pipe one sheet and store the reminder of the pastry cream in the piping bag in the fridge until you're ready to bake the second tray. Or, you can pipe out the second tray at the same time and store it with a lightly oiled plastic wrap in the fridge. I normally just keep it it in the piping bag and pipe right before I’m going to cook
- If using craquelin, place on top of each puff. If not, mix together egg and water and using a pastry brush or your finger gently rub the egg wash over the entire surface, patting down any pointed tips.
- Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees and then turn down the temperature to 350 degrees and bake 20 more minutes. Do not open the oven while they are baking. That will release the steam and inhibit them rising to their full potential.
- Once they are golden brown you can remove from oven and let them cool and transfer to wire rack. Return oven to 400 degrees and repeat for the remainder of the pastry batter.
- Once they are cooled you can fill with your filling of choice and enjoy!